This ongoing project is led by artist and creative producer Meadhbh McIlgorm and is an extension of her both personal research interests in that which is ephemeral and transient and her extensive experience in event and project management within the cultural sector. The 'between' spaces featured provide both the theme and the context for the artworks shown.
The concept was piloted with the 'Liminal [Space] Belfast Exhibition' in 2020 with the support of the Arts Council Northern Ireland's 'Artist's Emergency Grant'. The grant was one of a series rolled out to support artists during the Covid-19 pandemic when lockdown decimated the established system of exhibitions, festivals and events and vastly reduced the amount of opportunities available to work and earn income. Lockdown necessitated new ways of showing and producing art and this project was just one of the many creative responses dreamed up by artists.
So far the project has focused on the alleyways (also known as entries) between Belfast city's terraced housing. These are ‘liminal’, transitional sites - their ownership and function is often unclear but they hold much potential for development. The pandemic has had a significant impact on our relationships with public space across the city. During lockdown we were forced into spending more time at home and these spaces became more important as an extension of our outdoor space and provided an important connection to neighbours and socially distancing visitors... across Belfast, a quiet 'alleyway revolution' was occurring and through this we met several partners interested in continuing the conversation.
The Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics got in touch and wondered if we'd be interested in producing something for the 2021 festival. With new partners 9ft in Common on board we came up with 'Limin-alley' and project has grown significantly, to be less about an once off exhibition in an alternative location but rather about using art and design as a tool to encourage exploration and ideas for how these spaces could be better utilised across the city going forward.
Liminal [space] Belfast may not always be about alleyways but we are excited to be playing a part in this movement and look forward to seeing some more results.